Knight Institute Responds to UN Special Rapporteur’s Report on the Murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

June 19, 2019

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, released her findings today from a months-long investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland later this month.

The following response can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

“The Special Rapporteur’s report underscores the heinousness of this crime and the stakes for both Saudi Arabia and the international community in bringing those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder to justice. The United States should be doing everything it can to support the report’s recommendations and the quest for justice. Instead, the administration’s refusal to comply with the reporting requirements of the Magnitsky Act and the reluctance of its agencies to produce documents relating to what the U.S. government knew and knows about the murder have left a huge cloud of doubt about the United States’ own commitment to press freedom and the most basic human rights.”

Earlier this year, the Knight Institute and the Committee to Protect Journalists filed a lawsuit asking a court to force five federal agencies to disclose documents showing whether they fulfilled their “duty to warn” reporter Jamal Khashoggi that he was in danger before he was lured to his death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.  While the agencies have produced policy documents in response to the lawsuit, four of the five agencies have issued “Glomar” responses to the request for materials relating to Khashoggi himself, refusing to confirm or deny that they have any such documents. The one agency that did address the request for documents about Khashoggi himself was the State Department, which declared that its search had turned up no such records.

For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, Communications Director, Knight Institute, lorraine.kenny@knightcolumbia.org. 

About the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

The Knight First Amendment Institute defends the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Its aim is to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.